Building boom

Construction is booming all over Portland, and that includes the PSU campus. Last April, the university celebrated the completion of the $52.1 million renovation of the Peter W. Stott Center to create the Viking Pavilion.

Meanwhile, three other buildings on campus are undergoing renovation and two more — a new building and a major renovation of an old one — are waiting in the wings. Nearly all of the funds for large construction projects comes from the State of Oregon or philanthropy. 

Here’s a recap of construction on campus:

Fourth and Montgomery Building

PSU is partnering with the City of Portland, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Community College to build this seven-story building on a site currently occupied by a parking lot east of the Academic and Student Recreation Center. Construction began in December, with completion slated for late fall 2020.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new building (above) was held Friday, Jan. 11.

The $104 million building (left) will house the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health; PSU College of Education; PCC’s Dental Hygiene, Dental Assistant, and Dental Laboratory Assistant programs; and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Education advocates and philanthropists Christine and David Vernier donated $1 million to the College of Education to create a fully equipped STEM training classroom in the new building.

724 Harrison renovation (previously Neuberger Hall)

The biggest renovation project right now is the $70 million major renovation of one of PSU’s busiest buildings in the heart of campus (right). The building on SW Broadway is home to dozens of classrooms and administrative offices, all of which had to find temporary homes prior to the start of the project in January 2018.

At this point, the bulk of the demolition and hazardous material abatement has been completed; renovation of the mechanical systems, the electrical systems and interiors has started; the new roof has been installed; and contractors are on track to finishing the building by September 2019.

The 61-year-old building, which had a reputation for being a stuffy, dark bunker, will be almost unrecognizable when it’s done. The plan includes a light well cut right through the center of the building. That, combined with more and bigger windows, reconfigured spaces and improvements to virtually every aspect of the building — from new plumbing to seismic upgrades — will turn it into a modern, efficient and much more appealing space. Student service counters, formerly buried in one of the darkest areas of the building, will now be located in space on the west side facing the Park Blocks, filled with abundant natural light. 

The crowning feature will be a 7,500-square-foot art museum over two floors on the east side of the building. PSU’s first museum is made possible through a $5 million donation by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

Cramer Hall

Cramer Hall, two blocks north of 724 Harrison, is undergoing a smaller renovation, and it’s happening while the building is occupied. Work started last summer on a $9 million project to add fire protection, upgrade the plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems, and perform associated interior finish work. While the aesthetic improvements will be much less dramatic than 724 Harrison, visitors should notice that the water tastes much better, the temperature control of the spaces will be improved, and the building’s other systems will function with greater reliability.

The building is fully operational now, although some restrooms, sinks and drinking fountains will be shut down. Some temporary heaters and fans will be in place while crews work on the HVAC system. The project is scheduled for completion in June 2019.

Saint Helens Residence Hall

Built in 1928 and acquired by PSU in 1969, Saint Helens Residence Hall is undergoing a $6 million renovation, and will be ready for a grand opening in fall term 2019. The project includes replacing the water and electrical systems. All 51 of the kitchens and bathrooms will be remodeled with new fixtures, wall finishes, accessories and more.  Electrical systems are being replaced in the residence hall’s rooms. Corridors and common spaces in the building will get new paint, carpeting and safety door upgrades. Three of the units will be fully complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The main building entry also will have a new ADA-conforming ramp.

Science Building I

This 50-year-old building Science Building I at SW 10th and Mill has never had a significant renovation or remodel, and needs one badly. That’s why PSU plans to ask funding from the Oregon Legislature to bring it up to 21st century standards.

The proposed project will completely renovate the 92,600-square-foot building, which includes two classrooms, five teaching labs, 73 research labs, 55 faculty offices and three greenhouses. It will create flexible research areas that allow for quick shifts between different disciplines and multidisciplinary research. It will also modernize infrastructure for critical life science and STEM programs at PSU — current programs that are hindered by space and safety constraints.

Story by John Kirkland

Photo, top: (from left) PCC President Mark Mitsui, PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi, OHSU President Danny Jacobs, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, and philanthropist Christine Vernier at Friday's groundbreaking. Photo by Peter Simon.

Homepage photo: A rendering of the future Fourth and Montgomery Building.